- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2002

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa President Bush yesterday called on Congress to correct "a quirk in the law" that would revoke his tax cuts in less than a decade, imposing $100 billion in new taxes on Americans in 2011 and hampering long-term economic growth.
"That doesn't make much sense," the president told taxpayers at a General Mills food plant here. "For the good of the working people in America, for the good of families, for the good of small businesses, for the good of farmers and ranchers, we need to make the tax-relief plan permanent in the tax code."
Mr. Bush chose Iowa for his tax-day speech because this was where he first proposed his tax-cut plan on Dec. 1, 1999, two months before the 2000 Iowa caucuses. Congress passed the plan last summer, just before Senate control switched from Republican to Democrat.
But opponents managed to use a technical rule in the Senate that would revoke the legislation on Jan. 1, 2011. Republicans said that amounted to a massive tax increase that would send shock waves through the economy.
Senate Democrats have resisted legislation to make the tax cuts permanent. Some, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, want to repeal the tax cuts altogether, while others, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, merely want them postponed.
The House this week will try to fulfill Mr. Bush's request by voting on a package that would make all of last year's tax cuts permanent including the change in income-tax rates and the elimination of the "marriage penalty" and estate tax.
Rep. Bill Thomas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the bill also will include provisions to extend the taxpayer filing date to April 30 for those who file electronically and ease the interest payments on estimated taxes and penalties.
Those were part of a taxpayer-protection bill that Democrats defeated in the House last week, arguing that another provision would have erased important campaign-finance regulations.
The tax cuts are being added as amendments to another House bill that has passed the Senate. Procedurally, that means it goes straight back to the Senate floor, which puts more pressure on Senate Democrats to schedule the bill for a vote.
"I think the Senate's qualitative objections can be overcome by quantitative weight," said Mr. Thomas, California Republican.
In Iowa, Mr. Bush said taxpayers will find it "hard to plan the future" if they think the tax cuts are permanent and then suddenly "go away." The cuts are designed to phase in over the course of a decade.
The first effect of the tax cut was felt last fall, when Americans received $60 billion in rebates. The president said that helped mitigate the recession, especially after the terrorist attacks of September 11.
"When the enemy hit, they not only killed a lot of innocent people, but they affected our economy," Mr. Bush said. "And it's one of the reasons I'm so proud we cut the taxes on the people who work, because, you see, if you let people keep their own money, they tend to want to spend it.
"And when they spend it, they're going to buy a good or service," he added. "It means somebody's going to find work."
After delivering his tax message, the president attended a fund-raiser for Rep. Greg Ganske, Iowa Republican, who was trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin in November. The $250-a-plate dinner raised about $500,000 in hard money for the challenger.
But throughout the day, the president downplayed his role as political fund-raiser in chief and emphasized his role in prosecuting the bipartisan war against terrorism.
"My most important job is not politicking," he said. "My most important job isn't to give speeches everywhere. My most important job is to make sure people don't hit America again, is to make sure we're secure."
Stephen Dinan contributed to this report from Washington.

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